Stan Wawrinka: The Other Swiss
Originally published on 19/02/14
Stan Wawrinka has too much humility and too much good grace to admit it, but at times he must tire of talking about Roger Federer. Even in the 28-year-old’s finest hour, after his victory over Rafa Nadal in the final of the Australian Open, the same questions kept coming.
Had Roger been in touch yet to congratulate him? What did he say? How did it feel to replace Roger as Swiss No 1? How much of a help had Roger been? Had there been fewer expectations on his shoulders as a result of Roger’s triumphs over so many years?
Federer, after all, had never had to deal with such a bombardment of questions about Marc Rosset or Jakob Hlasek. Nadal, meanwhile, rarely faced as many comparisons between himself and his fellow Majorcan, Carlos Moya. As for Novak Djokovic, did anyone ever ask him what it was like to follow in the footsteps of Slobodan Zivojinovic?
If the questions about Federer grate with Wawrinka, he does a very good job of hiding it. Besides, however much he might feel that he has not been given the credit or recognition that he has deserved over his many years competing with the sport’s best, Wawrinka recognises that the benefits of being “the other Swiss” have far outweighed the downsides.
“In a way it’s been an advantage to me,” Wawrinka admitted. “When I arrived in professional tennis I was quite shy. It was good for me to be in his shadow a little bit. It deflected the pressure from me. I could just go about my career without having as much pressure from Switzerland as I would have had if Roger had not been around.
“I’ve had the chance to practise probably more than 200 times with the No.1 player in the world. It’s something you can only learn from. It’s the same now when I practise with Novak or Rafa – you learn from those players. I don’t try to imitate them but I do try to take things from them."